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Fissures & Fractures

by I.J. SINGH

 

 

This is not about fractured bones; they will heal, even if inelegantly and slowly.

Nor is today’s exercise about fissures that exist barely subsurface in Mother Earth, but can separate violently as earthquakes even in the most glamorous of neighborhoods.  

Families, too, sometimes disunite and disintegrate. 

But my focus today, deliberately narrow, is on the larger families of mankind - communities, religions and nations.

The United States of America appear to us as perhaps the most successfully integrated society in the history of mankind.  The trek, not always smooth, peaceful or linear, but the direction and movement remain undeniably progressive.  Sons and daughters of erstwhile slaves now seem absolutely equal.  (That’s not entirely true, even though we have a Black President in the White House today.)

Nations, too, break up. 

The disintegration of the Soviet Union and of the erstwhile nation of Yugoslavia, as also the partition of the Indian subcontinent come to mind.  

I recently came across a 2010 (Knopf Doubleday) book by the Pulitzer Prize winning author Eugene Robinson whose take on the Blacks in modern-day America is really off the beat.  I aim to draw on his book for some pungent comments to apply to Sikhs and where we are today.

The book is titled DISINTEGRATION and carries the subtitle “The Splintering of Black America.”  It becomes a study not so much of integration and its march through history but of dis-integration over the past four decades.

Robinson starts with the undeniable fact that, not so long ago, race-based society was the norm of American life for generations even into the 20th century; the racial experience constituted the fundamental identity of community life.  It was the legal institutional structure of society.  This, of course, is no longer true. 

He then argues that the American Black community no longer exists as an entity of common values.  He convincingly posits that the race-based community that was a fixture of American life for generations - the traditional locus of racial experience, the entity that many of us still cling to, as an institutional and social reality, is extinct. It has dramatically splintered and changed during the past 40 years or so.

From this powerful thesis, he develops new inferences.  He classifies the present-day American Blacks into four subtypes:  “The Transcendent elite … men and women who live and work in a privileged world of wealth and power.  Despite the color of their skin they do not belong to the Black community; the Mainstream middle class, which now accounts for a majority of black Americans; an Emergent community made up of mixed-race families and black immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean; and the Abandoned, a large and growing underclass concentrated in the inner cities and depressed pockets of the rural South.”

Further, Robinson argues that “Divided by economics and culture, these four groups have little in common and little reason to identify with one another. For better or for worse … the ethos of racial solidarity that served blacks well during the Jim Crow era and the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and ’60s no longer exist. Thus, continued references to “black leaders” or “black agenda” make no sense and only obscure the complexities of race in a vast, multicultural nation.”

From this, it seemed to me an easy leap to our Sikh reality today. 

I know that many look askance at the divisions between amritdhari and non-amritdhari Sikhs. (For those on unfamiliar territory, amritdharis are those who have been formally initiated as Khalsa, per the practice introduced by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699; it is somewhat similar but not entirely akin to baptism in Christianity.)  

I, too, have in the past argued that Sikhs worldwide may be heading towards a three-way split: amritdhari Sikhs; non-amritdhari but recognizable Sikh because they wear turbans and beards; and non-recognizable Sikhs without the long unshorn hair and beards, whether or not they were always so, as seen in sehajdharis, or became unrecognizable later on in life by choice.  The latter are now likely to be regarded as apostate by many, if I can borrow a term from Christianity without attaching a value judgment at this point. (At this time, I am not going to touch additional subdivisions that occur within Sikhi, such as Namdharis, Ravidasis, etc.)

We often despair at the competing and contradictory voices that emerge and often seem to speak for and about the larger current reality of Sikhism.  But this is not unique to us and is pervasive in all communities, religions and nations around the globe. Keep in mind that more than a thousand sects and denominations comprise Christianity today.  Jews, too, have sects and tensions often run high among them.  Muslims are no exception; Shias and Sunnis are hardly at peace anywhere while Ahmedyyas remain marginalized pretty much everywhere.  Buddhism in Japan is almost unrecognizable from its practice in India or Thailand.

To a casual observer, Hinduism appears to be at peace with its diverse reality in spite of glaring contradictions in its practices and lifestyle that vary from  strict monotheism to a very public polytheism with innumerable gods and goddesses; from strict vegetarianism to liberal consumption of meat; from non-violence to animal sacrifice; from cow worship to its total rejection; the centrality of the caste system; and from rigid asceticism to  the joys of the Kama Sutra and pure hedonism.

 It is also self-evident that in a worldwide community of around 30 million now, there should be no expectation that all Sikhs speak with homogeneity of thought and unanimity of opinion.

Will these three groups (amritdhari, non-amritdhari but keshadhari, and non-recognizable Sikhs), in time, evolve gurduaras that cater selectively to one group or the other?  We already have a few caste-based gurduaras, even though caste identity remains an anathema to Sikh doctrine.  This is how sects arise if they continue to maintain their connection with the parent religion; if not, they morph into new and separate religions. 

Is this a price all religions pay over time?

I, like many Sikhs, also rue the news that we often make.about the operations of gurduaras, particularly in North America.  I won’t dwell on this but surely readers will acknowledge that many of the 200 North American gurduaras are significantly dysfunctional.  The key issue appears to be purely a management dispute that often gets couched in the language of loyalty to doctrine, tradition and definition of a Sikh. Many of these gurduara disputes have landed us in expensive legal proceedings, while just as many stand at the crest of more court cases.  

I have wondered in the past if the issues are rooted in the fact that there seems to be an unfiltered transfer of management models from Punjab to this culture without understanding of our new realities in a different setting. 

But I see that my hypothesis, even if true, is in fact simplistic.  We could profitably borrow some of Robinson’s logic to explore the predicament we are in.

It seems that our fragmentation is only partially rooted in the definition of who is a Sikh as I alluded earlier, and there may be another potent divisive element that enters the equation. 

When the British completed their control of India by annexation of the Sikh Raj in the mid 19th century, a new factor entered our calculus.

History has molded the Punjabi mind to be most pragmatic. With the British came their educational system and general westernization of the country.  The practical Indian - and I speak largely of Punjabis and Sikhs here - saw that future was now going to be defined by British values and education that would also be the conduit of the best of European culture, values and technology into India.

Sikhs embraced these inevitable changes. Their transformation was hastened because Sikhs rushed to join the one British institution that promoted British culture single-mindedly - the armed services.  Here the Sikhs felt welcomed as the brave and loyal soldiers that their history had made them.  This is where they were valued, far more than in the tradition bound Brahmin dominated Indian society that stands rejected in the founding principles of Sikhi.

But Sikhs, largely from Punjab, represented a primarily rural agriculture-based economy, and in many ways they still do.

Thus Sikhs created a dichotomy in their reality: as the highly sophisticated army officers that the British society valued, they were the wave of modernity. The other side of the coin was the rural based economy of Punjab from which many of them came.  Must of the gurdwaras remained in the larger rural-based populace, reflecting their reality and outlook. This dichotomy hastened the diminution of the one Sikh institution in rural Punjab - the gurdwara.

(The rest of India - largely non-Sikh - created a similarly schizoid society but their reality emerged from the caste-based economy that is proving so resistant to change even today.)

Why do I say this?  Because here in the diaspora it seems to me that many of our communities’ internal differences,   particularly those that are gurdwara-based, stem from differences in economic power, westernization, education or cultural ethos; these are criteria that are easily classified according to their roots - whether they are village-based or urban. In this context, then, the urbanized western educated Sikhs - without much of a sub-continental accent to their spoken English - are the 'Transcendent Elite' as Robinson might put it.

The closer the Sikhs are to their rural roots, the more they represent what would be the underclass concentrated in the depressed pockets of existence - the 'Abandoned' of Robinson’s terminology.

And don’t forget that despite all the material progress we boast of, the larger part of Sikhs still cling desperately to their rural roots. And that’s why the greater part of our religious preachers, ministers and granthis represent that reality; they live and act as if they haven’t ever heard of the last three centuries.

Robinson argues for nothing short of a Marshall Plan to rescue the 'Abandoned.'  He warns that the problem of the 21st century “is the problem of the Abandoned.”

This applies equally to us Sikhs.

That doesn’t sound too good for a religion, and particularly the egalitarian structure of Sikhi.  And I have seen new gurdwaras in the richer pockets of America passionately debating how to structure a management model that would exclude our monetarily or culturally deprived brethren and how to dissuade them from even attending the gurdwara. This would truly abandon this “abandoned” class.

We know in our gut that this is against the grain of Sikh teaching. So when such differences surface we undergo a paradigm shift and restructure in analytical terms our differences from these common people in terms of how good they may or may not be as Sikhs.

Forget not that Guru Gobind Singh personally embraced these 'abandoned' Sikhs with the compliment  (“inhi ki kirpa ke sajay hum hain …”)  that, but for their love and commitment, there remain millions like him without glory, and that he himself is indebted to these people for all that he had achieved or become.

Again, it was on the backs of these folks that Banda Bahadar and later, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, achieved their glory. During the struggle for India’s independence and for wresting control of gurdwaras from the British, again it was these ordinary Sikhs who faced imprisonment and death. And in our latest struggle in 1984, these “abandoned” Sikhs carried the torch.

These people are not riff raff. 

The citified urbanized, westernized Sikhs were there but never so fully nor in the number. Now these non-urbanized, poorly educated Sikhs need us so that we can again create a common purpose and a common destiny. Now, we need to uplift them.

In the final analysis, I don’t know which is the more poisonous - our trait for internecine warfare based on who is a good Sikh and who is not, or our propensity and ability to hide our economic and cultural disparities and dishonestly frame the dialogue in terms of religion.

Given these two sets of fences and fissures between us that divide us, how then can our worldwide community ever define a largely inclusive agenda for all Sikhs even in Punjab and India, much less globally, and how can we possibly have a common leader given that two issues have to be engaged that may even be inimical to each other?

I know how often we rue the lack of enlightened Sikh leadership and a common Sikh program and direction in action.  But we do get the leaders we deserve.

 

ijsingh99@gmail.com

July 11, 2011

Conversation about this article

1: Devinder Singh (India), July 11, 2011, 7:22 AM.

Sri Prakasa, a former Governor of Bombay, described the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) as an 'inter-marriageable' community. That is what the Khalsa was made in 1699. This function was, before the advent of Sikhi and the Khalsa, exploited by caste or gotra. The Birlas for instance could have a daughter-in-law coming from a disparate economic background. No longer is this true. It is now economic power, education and cultural ethos that binds. Marriage alliances can come even from non-marwari industrial families. Social affinity, not religion is the defining factor. The basis of splintering of Black America applies equally to other communities. It does not seem to me that the three-way grouping of Sikhs described in the article is the observable position today. The split is along the lines of 'marriageability'.

2: Ravinder Singh Taneja (Westerville, Ohio, U.S.A.), July 11, 2011, 7:42 AM.

A timely and important subject. Interestingly, Robinson cites the civil rights movement, affirmative action and desegregation - all progressive things in themselves - as contributing factors to the splintering of black America. Makes me wonder: is splintering the price we pay for progress? With Blacks, it is a lack of racial solidarity that Robinson laments. Would you say that is the case with Sikhs as well? Probably not, I would think. Caste, with its jutt/ non-jutt/ rural/ urban extension is probably a bigger factor. Historically, would you say that the Singh Sabha movement, with its emphasis on a distinct Sikh identity (that has evolved into the Amritdhari model), contributed to this divide amongst Sikhs? I don't think we are ever going to erase economic and educational differences, but we can take a more inclusive view of who is a Sikh. But you are quite right about the dishonesty in our current dialogue.

3: I.J. Singh (New York, U.S.A.), July 11, 2011, 12:14 PM.

Devinder ji: The fault lines that divide Sikhi are many and they certainly loom large as determinative issues in marriage. Over the years, caste, unshorn hair (kes) and support for Khalistan claimed preeminence; now Khalistan has lost considerable luster. All three have been subjects of considerable discussion. The divide between the rural and urbanized (westernized) Sikhs also deserves notice; hence my essay. A comprehensive conversation on such matters will uncover many more issues than the few under the microscope today. I am sure all the matters that divide us become defining issues in determining marriageability.

4: Devinder Singh (India), July 11, 2011, 9:27 PM.

The creation of a new unity, such as the Khalsa, when it proceeds by external and mechanical processes, has almost by a practical necessity to go through a process of internal contraction before the unit can indulge again in a new and free expansion of its inner life; for its first need and instinct is to form and secure its own existence. To enforce its unity is its predominant impulse. In order to enforce a strong and sure unity, it has to create a paramount centre,the Akal Takht in this instance, to which the liberty and free life of the individual has to be subordinated. But small human communities such as the Sikh diaspora in which all can easily take an active part and in which ideas and movements are swiftly and lividly felt by all and can be worked out rapidly and thrown into form without the need of a large organisation, turn naturally towards freedom as soon as they cease to be preoccupied with the first absorbing necessity of self-preservation. Forms such as an infallible Papacy or a sacrosanct theocratic class cannot flourish at ease in such an environment. It is this start of a freer expansion that Sikhi is now going through to accommodate itself to the new and wider ideas which philosophy and political thought have brought forth.

5: Bhai Harbans Lal (Dallas, Texas, U.S.A.), July 12, 2011, 8:43 AM.

I am pleased that a prolific writer and an intellectual like I.J. Singh has entered into this timely debate of diversity among Sikhs and the Sikh Panth. He has given a clarion call to enter into the diversity deliberation for the benefit of our nation that is defined by our Gurus as boundless. Maybe a day will come when the Sikh Panth becomes 100 million strong instead of its presently debatable strength of up to 30 million, depending on definitions and resulting exclusions. For information, let me complete the passage I.J. Singh quoted from Guru Gobind Singh: "inhi ki kirpa ke sajay hum hain ..." In the same hymn is included: "inhi ki kirpa se jud jitey ..." The battles that our Guru is acknowledging as won through the help and blessing of his Sikh armies were won before the 1699 Vaisakhi, according to late Dr. Tarlochan Singh. The comment Ravinder Singh Taneja made will make a useful addition in our deliberation. Let us discard factors that hurt us and recognize those that are healthy for diversity. Diversity is a law of nature for survival and growth.

6: Balbir Singh (U.S.A.), July 13, 2011, 12:53 PM.

Appreciated your very perceptive piece! You have been an observer of the Sikh scene in the U.S. for over half a century. You have taken part in the management of a gurdwara in one of the largest cities, New York. So you have learned of the fissures and fractures first hand. Their causes, as you have noted, may lie deeply embedded in our Punjabi rural and urban psyche. Your observations seem particularly valid. Our population in the U.S. may now have reached a critical mass to effectuate some new egalitarian policies that can thwart further fissures. You may have purposely avoided a plan of action for now. Let me start the ball rolling, with a suggestion, even if I have not had much time to think through it. This can be a sounding board for constructive criticism and expansion. We need a super-body, a Board of Gurdwara Managers, in the U.S. and Canada, initially. Such a body is said to exist in Washington D.C. and lists many gurdwaras as its members. But its objectives seem to be political in nature. They seek to influence policies in India. This new body should be a deliberative body for Best Practices in the management of gurdwaras in the diaspora. It should have Sikh scholars available for consultation and/or arbitration. All gurdwaras should be invited to join it and pay annual dues. It should host an annual conference in convenient locations on a rotational basis. It should recognize gurdwaras that have been adjudged most progressive in harmonizing sangats during the year. Their successful ideas should become subjects for handouts that are made available at gurdwara gatherings to the public at large, throughout the year. A different presentation could be featured each week. These ideas could also be the subject of formal debates among the Sikh youth groups locally ...

7: Kirpal Singh (New Zealand), July 13, 2011, 3:21 PM.

Historically the term 'sehajdhari' was (and is still used) for non-Sikhs (Hindus, Muslims, or others) who were/are on the "slow" path towards Sikhi. There is another group of Sikhs termed as "gurbanidhari" Sikhs comprising of those with or without turban; and including sehajdharis who have trust and faith in the bani of Guru Granth Sahib but without intention of following the Khalsa discipline. Basically, all the Sikhs (amritdharis, non-amritdharis and sehajdharis) are primarily gurbanidhari Sikhs (a common thread). All Sikh Gurus, mahapurakhs and gurmukhs are/were gurbanidhari.

8: I.J. Singh (New York, U.S.A.), July 13, 2011, 5:10 PM.

Balbir ji: Thanks for your thoughtful perspective. Yes, my observation of the Sikh scene spans over 50 years, beginning when there were no more than a handful of Sikhs, if that, where I lived. But my experience of gurdwara management is extremely brief and limited to a time lasting less than a year, 30 years ago. Instead, I have been extensively involved in non-gurdwara Sikh institutions. We need to evolve deliberative bodies to engage the non-Sikh communities on issues that are common to us all - an equal place at the table of this society. How to move away from an India-centric viewpoint in our institutions and create our own reality here, is the question. We are creating some non-gurdwara organizations to address our issues in this society. We've come a long way but have a longer way to go. How do we go about it? It's time we gave it our best shot. That's the logical follow-up to our discussion.

9: Sukh Gill (Brampton, Ontario, Canada), July 13, 2011, 8:40 PM.

I read your article about disintegration. There are a few irregularities about applying the same criteria as the author of the book had used re Black-Americans. Sikhi as professed by the so-called custodians of the faith today has a different hue than what had been presented in gurbani, Bhai Gurdas' writings, and the writings of Guru Gobind Singh. After the death of Guru Gobind Singh, it is not clear what happened and how everything got distorted in the name of Sikhi for the vested interests of the few. The history written in the 18th century and the 19th and 20th centuries have no similarity whatsoever and to deduce any inferences from that would lead anyone to make wrong conclusions by applying someone else's paradigm, as in your case. Applying the idea of Black-American disintegration to the Sikhs of today is totally irrelevant since, in the case of Blacks, their problems exist in the context of their financial, educational, urban and rural culture. But their religious beliefs were almost the same, while vis-a-vis Sikhs, each and every problem exists within the purview of religion, whether it is over money, hegemony or identity.

10: I.J. Singh (New York, U.S.A.), July 13, 2011, 8:41 PM.

The purpose was not to interpret Sikhi in the Black model or their experience. You and I both know that one is not a carbon copy of the other. All analogies only go so far; to stretch them further, beyond the intent of the analogy, is a disservice. That was not my purpose. Sikh history provides many analyses for our divisive reality. Historians have explored many - from the point of view of caste, resurgent and aggressive Hindus, the world view, often limited, of our leaders. But I think that not much attention has gone to the changing realities after the British came into India. I thought this neglect needed some airing and some exploration. That there is a divide between westernized, urbanized Sikhs and our rural-based Sikhs seems to me, neglected. I could pick some examples from a work on Black America and so I did. I know such literature exists on the Jews as well. Modern Judaism similarly leaves behind the Hassidim and the like; but there the divide is more economic and religious in some ways, and more complex. Sometimes, like here, I think that the attitudes to Sikhism seem divided along socialization, urbanization and material success as well. At least that's how it seems to me. So I put out the essay to foster discussion. I welcome different opinions. Believe me, I am not looking for an unquestioned agreement and not for unexplored acceptance of my views.

11: Sukh Gill (Brampton, Ontario, Canada), July 13, 2011, 9:00 PM.

I.J. Singh ji: I was not trying to oppose your opinions but, as you said, there is a vast difference between westernized Sikhs and rural Sikhs. But, on the other hand, if you peep through the western gurdwaras, you'll see that they have been hijacked extremely orthodox and rural Sikhs inspired by the Bhindrawala era and the most intriguing phenomena has been that the most educated and highly professional western Sikhs have been supporting them wholeheartedly till today. It is very easy to write or comment on these problems but no one is coming out to start a honest dialogue face to face to search for the real Sikhi as per gurbani. But I have read your past articles and sometimes they were thought provoking. But the tragedy is that they are not becoming the centre of discussion amongst the average Sikhs on the street.

12: Akiva Atwood (Jerusalem, Israel), July 14, 2011, 8:51 AM.

Dr. I.J. Singh points out a Socio-Economic/ Cultural division that exists in the Sikh community (and that parallels the Jewish experience of the last 150 years), but there is another source of division that must be considered. Students of Mysticism refer to it as "constricted" vs "expanded" consciousness. The degree to which one "honestly" and "properly" practices naam juppna, kirat karni and vund chhakna is going to have an effect on one's state of consciousness (awareness) - and the more expanded/ aware the person is, the less they will be trapped by the socio-economic/ cultural division. In other words, the less issues like caste, nationality, wealth, etc. matter to them, the less they will be involved in or pursue power struggles in roles of leadership in gurdwaras, politics, etc.

13: Devinder Singh (India), July 15, 2011, 1:05 AM.

Akiva Atwood's pointer to a constricted Sikh consciousness is timely to this debate. The three ideas which are of supreme moment and have become the watchwords of humanity were cast forth into being from the great stir and movement of the seventeenth century - Sikhi - continue to act on men. Three words have the power of remoulding nations and Governments: liberty, equality and fraternity. This liberty to which we progress is liberation out of a state of bondage. We move from a state of bondage to an original liberty. This is what our own religion teaches. This is what our own philosophy suggests as the goal towards which we move, mukti or moksha. We are bound in the beginning by a lapse from pre-existent freedom, we strive to shake off the bonds, we move forward and forward until we have achieved the ultimate emancipation, that utter freedom of the soul, of the body or the whole man, that utter freedom from all bondage towards which humanity is always aspiring. Equality is a thing which mankind has never accomplished. From inequality and through inequality we move, but it is to equality. Our religion, our philosophy set equality forward as the essential condition of emancipation. The equality which America has got is external political equality. It is now trying to achieve social equality. Nowadays their hard-earned political liberty is beginning to pall as it is barren of the sweetness of brotherhood. There is no fraternity in this liberty. It is merely a political liberty. Fraternity is the most difficult to achieve, still it is a thing towards which all religions call and human aspirations rise. There is discord in life, but mankind yearns for peace and love. This is the reason why the gospels which preach brotherhood excite passionate attachment. But this brotherhood has to be founded on a brotherhood in God - an expanded consciousness. That is the proper direction for finding the solution to unity.

14: Gurmukh Singh (London England), July 16, 2011, 1:13 AM.

In his usual scholarly style, Dr. I.J. Singh has analyzed the problem so that the reader is better informed to draw own conclusions. However, individual conclusions would depend on personal experience. My own observation in the U.K. is that an educated and affluent Sikh is less likely to "frame the dialogue in terms of religion" than a working class and less well-off type. The latter type is more likely to support exclusive Sikhi and distinguish between a "good" and a "bad" Sikh. This polarization between the working class (mostly, of rural Punjabi background) and the much more affluent and better educated Sikhs (mostly, business urban type), is then reflected in their support or lack of it, for what are seen as Sikh religeo-political causes and in their interpretation of Sikh tradition and events, e.g., 1984. My reference to affluent Indian Sikhs under an earlier thread was a pointer to this type of division to which Dr. I.J. Singh has alluded in his article. In the U.K., these divisions are reflected in organizations claiming grassroots support and which are more influential in gurdwaras, and those which are more like exclusive clubs of the rich and better educated and which are more influential in government circles. The latter run their own gurdwaras, sometimes to reflect their own interpretation of Sikhi. Both types have started framing their own gurdwara constitutions to exclude the "other"! Of course, there are exceptions to this general pattern. More analysis but, regrettably, few healing solutions to the "fissures and fractures" on offer.

15: Kanwarjeet Singh (Franklin Park, New Jersey, U.S.A.), July 16, 2011, 7:18 AM.

There is only one concept in Sikhism, i.e. of a Sikh and WaheGuru. The concepts of Namdhari, Sehajdhari, Amritdhari, non-Amritdhari, etc. are all created by people who have their own interests. The Ten Gurus simplified things and we have recreated conditions pre- Guru Nanak. If you follow the Guru/ Shabad to the word, you are a Sikh, else not. So creating and referencing different "-dharis" is further dividing the community. Only those who follow the word (shabad) to the core are true Sikhs, all others are work in progress.

16: I.J. Singh (New York, U.S.A.), July 18, 2011, 8:11 AM.

Believe me, I look at us all - all Sikhs - as essentially works in progress. I am not recommending any divisions and subdivisions that exist among Sikhs, but merely taking note of what exists - essentially of where we are and how we may have gotten there. Our institutional dilemmas are reflective of our individually stumbling progress on the path. A prerequisite to any corrective progress is taking note of such matters. And that's the idea here.

17: Kanwarjeet Singh (Franklin Park, New Jersey, U.S.A.), July 18, 2011, 12:44 PM.

Dear I.J. Singh ji, no disrespect intended. My earlier comment was a general comment and not directed at you. As you correctly mentioned, these conditions exist in society today. Unfortunately, we cannot change society, only ourselves. If we mortals (works in progress) stick to the principles, more people will be enlightened and follow by example. Bhul chuk maaf.

18: I.J. Singh (New York, U.S.A.), July 18, 2011, 4:14 PM.

Kanwarjeet ji: Please be assured there is no offense taken. In fact, I am absolutely with you on this. I also enjoy and welcome comments and debate, particularly those that disagree some or present a different perspective - one that had eluded me. That is soul food for my writing. And keep in mind that I am no expert on Sikhi - just a Sikh who is curious about who we are, what we are and why we are the way we are. Thank you and stay in touch.

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